Christoph de Babalon: Grim Zenith EP [VIS005]
We haven’t had an EP vinyl from CDB in many years, really since the excellent ‘A World of My Own’ 12” on Restroom Records. The wait is paid off with this evocative release limited to 300 copies. A1 ‘Could We Be?’ submerges us in eerie atmospheres and drum n’ bass assault; A2 ‘Pure Dirge’ is a thoughtful, beautiful track with melodies flirting with break beats and clanging bells. The B-side opens with drudging bass and kicking beat construction which is an abstract dance floor hit in my mind. B2 ‘Luxury of Sadness’ with its screeching string arrangements and abstract beat patterns reach a frenetic rhythm of pure mastery. De Babalon also just released digitally ‘The Haunting Past of Christoph de Babalon Vol. III’, which should be immediately downloaded! Both the digital and the vinyl are highly recommended!
Stave: Black Hills [Standards & Practices 2]
The new American label Standards & Practices run by Karl Meier, Ken Meier, and Jon Krohn (Stave) based in Chicago has started out strong. The first release by Talker (Krohn and Karl Meier) is dark and foreboding industrial techno. The second release ‘Black Hills’ by Stave shares a lot of commonalities with the sound of Headless Horseman. The second track is especially kicking with the irregular drum patterns, blistering noise, and dark atmospherics. A3 ‘Inhuman’ is dark and sinister, and B3 is a slow moving experimental track with searing guitar noise.
Schwefelgelb: Den Umgekehrten Atem [Fleisch 05]
For those into the new wave of EBM/synth pop/techno sounds, Schwefelgelb probably does it the best with their dance floor pounding tracks. All the tracks are really catchy, demonstrating complexity and offering something new, while still taking on some of the old tropes. B1 “Das Ärmellose Hemd” is pretty gritty. Recommended, especially if you’re into the vocals.
V/A: [Rave or Die 08]
This 2×10” on grey marble vinyl is a top release from Umwelt’s sub-label, appropriately named Rave or Die for those extremely dedicated to music. The A-Side opens with the 2017 remaster of The Mover’s excellent dance floor stormer ‘Invisible Space’. A2 by Minimum Syndicate is also killer. B1 opens with The Hacker’s rave friendly anthem, and Umwelt closes off the release with ‘Hooverrun’. Get the limited vinyl!
Pan Daijing: Lack [PAN 79]
After her excellent ‘A Satin Sight’ EP on Bedouin, Pan Daijing comes back with a weird, experimental release. Truly avant-garde in its sound veering in all sorts of unique and surprising directions. A1 clearly demonstrates the artist’s approach with the string arrangement and female operatic vocals layered amongst uncanny noises. A2 ‘A Loving Tongue’ is a great track with hypnotic loops and psychedelic arrangement, while A3 ‘Practice of Hygiene’ showcases disturbing guttural, suffocating vocal elements entwined with piano strikes and eerie screeches from perhaps a trumpet. A5 ‘Act of the Empress’ kicks off with some hard hitting beats and heavy distortion, creating a claustrophobic vibe, and is the track that comes closest to industrial techno. The short B1 is a clanging, metallic track with high pitched sounds, while B2 ‘Eat’ is a gritty noise track. B4 ‘A Situation of Meat’ with its hypnotic intensity and scratching metallic elements conjures up a horror movie. The release is closed by the soothing but weird ‘Lucid Morto’. The Chinese-born artist lives in Berlin, and surely her live performances must be extremely intense. Although PAN vinyl releases are always really expensive, this is definitely worth the money.
Dasha Rush: Ain’t No God Nor King [SG1780]
Sonic Groove continues to put out some excellent releases this year including by Dasha Rush, who last made the experimental 2×12” on Raster Noton. This great 12” opens with the killer track ‘Katusha’ that’s going to get everyone in a hypnotic frenzy on the dance floor. B1 ‘Black Swan’ is a cut down sparse journey of dark atmospheres and abstract techno rhythms for almost nine minutes. B2 ‘Acid Melancholy’ is a weird trip into 303 ambient soundscapes.
Tommy 47’s label has put out a bunch of top releases recently, including the various record 47008 with the excellent ‘Systems’ track by Ancient Methods, and Killawatt’s 12” in May 47010. 47012 followed quickly and was released in September, demonstrating that Killawatt has no shortage of excellent tracks. The 12” highlights are A1 ‘Psi’, A2 ‘Post Numer’ and B1 ‘Crackerjack Cacophony’.
Scalameriya: Dazzling Grimm EP [THEM006]
All the tracks on this EP have been circulating for a while, and can be heard on Scalameriya’s excellent live sets he puts out on his soundcloud. Scalameriya’s sound is full on dance floor stormers. I hardly need to describe single tracks since each one is hard hitting on this 12”, so get the vinyl before it’s gone!
Somatic Responses: [RAAR005]
Another great 12” out in January 2017 from Somatic Responses on the French label RAAR, which has put out some other noteworthy records like the new Maelstrom ‘In Her Eyes’ (RAAR06LP) and the split with JoeFarr (RAAR003). A1 ‘Quchtk’ is a dance-oriented IDM track with great rhythm and cascading modular sounds. A2 ‘Quchtk (The Exaltics Remix)’ is a cool, stepping electro track that is just as satisfying as the original track. The B-side opens with the abstract ‘Death Robots Attack’, a twisted, strange journey into unknown textures and sounds. B2 ‘Broken Synapse’ is an excellent dj track to mess with the dance floor with its hard hitting beats and laser sounds. Also check out Somatic Responses new CD on Hymen ‘Pattern Seeking’, and the repress of the Network23 classic split by Somatic Responses and Caustic Visions ‘Malignant Earth’ now out by XPDIGIFLEX.REC on black or clear vinyl.
Roundup of the 2017 Releases on Katabatik
In April 2017, Katabatik put out the three new digital albums, then in May three more, and by September there are now a total of eight albums from different Katabatik artists available on their bandcamp, with more coming soon. KTBTK001 by Thee Source features three tracks from 2013, and a new banging remix by Xanopticon of ‘None Shall Pass’. Thee Source is a collaborative project of Brian Amsterdam (Ceremonial Abyss – listen to the 2016 cassette and digital releases on Cuss Fetish) and Ashley Svn (HOM – see the new 12” on Isounderscore), and the tracks emphasize the confluence of vocals, evocative melodies, and visceral techno rhythms. KTBTK002 is a 7-track album titled ‘Who Are You’ by Scarford (aka Scott Arford) featuring material recorded between 2014-2017 including remixes by Identity Theft, Dimentia, and Exillon. This is a jamming EBM release infused with a provocative mix of film noir samples, analog sounds, and teknoid beats. KTBTK003 ‘Unknown’ by Nommo Ogo is three tracks recorded in the summer of 2014 featuring the collective’s ever evolving melodic occultist sounds that offer a hypnotic and thought provoking journey into the unknown. On the Katabatik youtube channel you can find three videos for tracks by Thee Source, Scarford, and Nommo Ogo made from video art source material of Jonathan Bernbaum. KTBTK004 by Atlea (also a member of Nommo Ogo) makes excellent use of vocoders to distort the vocal elements interlaid with dance-oriented electro sounds creating unique impressions. KTBTK005 ‘Pierrot’ by Identity Theft (who is half of Abandoned Footwear, and also an integral member of Nommo Ogo and Seacypt) continues to explore the themes of surveillance, paranoia, and dark psychology that you see running through all his releases. I’m curious to know more about what samples ‘from the very earliest recordings in history’ were used, and these are combined in evocative effect with Identity Theft’s skill in programming in three dark dance-oriented tracks, with the fourth track being a remix by Scarford. KTBTK006 ‘New Flesh’ is another excellent release by Dimentia, with everything you want from the dance floor shaker ‘New Flesh’ to the tripped out ‘Dead Creepin’ with its cryptic vocals. KTBTK 007 ‘Numbers’ by Exillon is six mind-altering tracks featuring the beautifully melodic opener ‘86’, the dance floor oriented weirdness of ‘122’, the dark sinister acid lines of ‘103’, and the powerful drones of the final number ‘127’. All of these artists are impressive live, so make sure to see them at events in Oakland and the Pacific North West. KTBTK008 ‘How Many Grey Dots’ by POLAR (Barrett Clark and Garret La Fever) was originally circulated in 2002 as a CDR, and now has been re-issued digitally, solidifying its cult status as a beloved release. This is the first of several posthumous releases of Barrett’s music that is planned for the future. On December 2, 2016, Katabatik tragically lost three of their artists, Barrett Clark (RPTN, RMS, Sidereal Oscillations, Accenting Shadows, POLAR), Joey Casio (Obsidian Blade, Uncanny Valley, Time Release), and Jonathan Bernbaum in the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire, along with 33 other people – they are greatly missed and always remembered – ‘in the darkest night we see the brightest stars’.
Also check out the other releases not on the Katabatik label by Katabatik artists including Zania Morgan’s ‘Shapeshifter’ mLP on the French label Falco Invernale; Stacian’s vinyl and digital release ‘Person L’ on Night School; the beautifully packaged 12” ‘108 Trees’ by Abandoned Footwear (Identity Theft and Exillon) on Isounderscore; Dimentia’s ‘La Petite Mort’ cassette and digital release on Record Label Records; the collaboration of Ceremonial Abyss/Atlea/Identity Theft as a cassette on Cuss Fetish; Scott Arford’s ‘Sleepless’ on Chrondritic Sound; Group Rhoda on Dark Entries; RPTN’s ‘Live at Katabatik Summer Solstice Kampout 2015’ and Obsidian Blade’s ‘Live at the Katabatik Kampout 2016’ hardware sets both on soundcloud, and much more. All of the new releases by Katabatik artists and on the Katabatik label are highly recommended!
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